Forward Samson George commits to Pitt |

Forward Samson George commits to Pitt

Jerry DiPaola

When Samson George played for coach Khayree Wilson at First Love Christian Academy, he conjured up images that may make Pitt fans nostalgic.

“He puts you in mind of DeJuan Blair,” said Wilson on Monday when George signed a letter of intent to join Pitt’s Class of 2017.

“Just his toughness and his ability to be on the offensive and defensive glass. He’s like an old Big East Pitt player. That’s how tough he is.

“I think he’ll be able to help Pitt right away.”

Whether George, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward, can do what Blair did for Pitt before going to the NBA is unclear. But George was a key component of his high school team the past two seasons.

He averaged 15 points and 11.5 rebounds for First Love, a small Christian school in Washington County that plays a nationwide schedule and won the National Christian Sports Athletic Association this year with a 23-3 record.

First Loves’s victories this season included a game with Aliquippa and two against City League runner-up Obama Academy. George didn’t play in those games and only participated in eight before enrolling at Iona in January.

Wilson said in George’s first game for First Love in 2015, he scored 30 points and recorded 15 rebounds without starting.

“Samson is an extremely athletic frontcourt player with a high motor,” Pitt coach Kevin Stallings said in a statement. “He is an aggressive rebounder on both ends of the floor and we are excited about his future in the program. He plays with a toughness and grit that are contagious.”

George, who was born in Nigeria and lives in Buffalo, N.Y., didn’t play in any games for Iona this season. Iona released him from his scholarship in May when school officials couldn’t wait for the NCAA to clear his amateurism, Wilson said.

The clearance came a week later, allowing him to sign with Pitt, according to Wilson. He chose Pitt over offers from USC, VCU, Rutgers and several other mid-major programs.

Pitt is also recruiting George’s First Love teammate Chris Efretuei, a 7-foot-1 center, who has attracted interest from Georgetown.

George is the eighth member of Pitt’s 2017 recruiting class, the largest in many years. Since 2002, Pitt hasn’t recruited more than five players in any season.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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